Tuesday, March 24, 2009


One thing you do need when building robots is a computer, besides them be useful for, well for everything, you need them to program the microcontrollers. These I believe can be programed in anything from BASIC to C. Then of course compiled and downloaded.

So I figured I'm build a spare computer that only has be be able to allow me to program (and some web surfing) and keep that at my robot workstation. I've got a spare flat screen monitor that I use for LAN parties (yes, I'm that big of a geek) and enough spare computer parts to build a spare machine. Well the problem with using a bunch of old parts is that some of them work and some of them don't. I've spent the last couple of days trying different combinations of parts trying to get a computer up and running. Well next I have to get an OS on and get it up and running so I can program my microcontroller, to set my servo, so I can modify my servo, so I can build my chassis...

Friday, March 20, 2009


So my $50 robot tutorial assumes you already have wire to connect your circuits. I didn't but finding wire isn't really that hard. Knowing how to find cheap wire online with all the options on the other had. I had gotten some wire from radio shack, 3 rolls 25' each red, black, and green for about $7-$8, but I keep going through it, I'm trying to figure out how to get more wire, more colors and not cost so much. Just make sure you get solid and not stranded, stranded doesn't stay together well enough to get in little holes. From what I can tell 22 guage is about standard size. After looking a while I found a site that has 100' rolls for $5.95 (and just about anything else you can think of), although I make no promises about the quality of the site.

Oops, it looks like his is stranded wire :(

But electronicx express does have 25' rolls for $1.05 (100' rolls are $5)

Stuffs in!

Well I got all my stuff in today (except for the book from amazon, but I don't need that for this project). Its amazing how quickly you can loose track of time when you're playing, its now after 1am and I should probably go to bed soon. This little $50 robot is harder than it seems. A couple of things I noticed:

Servos - they need to be modified if you want them to go around in a circle (not just 180 degrees), but this requires programing your chip to get the potentiometer to the right spot, anyway, at that point you might as well build your circuit board.

Circuit Board - All the pictures are great if you are using a pcp board and soldering everything, but if you are using a bread board it doesn't work, you can't just put things next to each other and not connect them. This wasn't too big of a problem until I got to the header to attach the programmer, the header is 10 pins in a 2x5 configuration. Unfortunately, nowhere on my bread board can I put a 2x5 pin configuration with each pin independent. This caused me to have to do some problem solving.

Cable - Since the programing cable is about 6" and needs to be connected to the computer I figured I'd just make a "cable" that allowed me to configure my pins on my breadboard how ever I needed. We'll see how it works.

Well I basically got my circuit, built, I've got my pin outs for my cable and just need to add the wires, but that's for another day...

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Who wants to hear about robots....

Probably no one, but you are here so maybe not. I decided robots were a fun way to get back into playing with electronics, but I didn't know where to start. So, I did what I do any time I am in any way confused or don't know an answer, I go to google. Over the past couple of months I bought an ordered books, and supplies, but I've been busy so I haven't gotten started. Anyway, here are a few places to start:

This is a page that walks you through building a robot for under $50. $50 might sound like a lot, but some of the things like the programmable chip and the cable to program said chip are probably about half the cost and reusable.

I also went to amazon and found the robot book with the best reviews and this is what I came up with: Robot Building for Beginners by David Cook (about $20)